Thanksgiving Travel Was a Success Thanks to PSP and Union-Negotiated Incentives

WASHINGTON, DC (November 30, 2021) — The Thanksgiving travel week saw the highest passenger volumes since the start of the pandemic 2 years ago with no major operational disruptions. This travel rebound and success would not have been possible without the Payroll Support Program and union-negotiated incentives to ensure a smooth operation. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA International President Sara Nelson released the following statement:

"Air travel over the Thanksgiving holiday was an off the charts successful operation. With the exception of some weather disruption and the horrific violent event against a Spirit Airlines crew - air travel was reliable, efficient, and on-time for travelers. This demonstrates exactly what's possible for our whole economy when the government focuses crisis relief on everyday people.

"The union plan championed by democrats that provided for payroll support to keep aviation workers in our jobs for 16 months during this pandemic made it possible to meet the demand of this holiday season. The #WorkersFirst program that also banned stock buybacks and capped executive compensation stopped aviation layoffs that would have been devastating for millions and put more strain on federal and state safety net programs. Together we made sure aviation workers were in place to meet the return demand for air travel after access to vaccination. It also saved millions of ancillary jobs connected to the industry. The program focused on the frontlines and the result was lower ticket prices. Companies were required to use the funds for payroll. They didn’t have discretion to divert the funds to other illusory costs and then gouge consumers while blaming inflation.

"American worker productivity was higher than any developed country in the pre-pandemic world. It is not sustainable. Earlier airline operation meltdowns showed that workers were not willing to pick up overtime at the same rate as before the pandemic. But, union contracts with holiday incentives and negotiated solutions where they didn't exist helped encourage overtime work during this holiday. These programs will remain in place for the Christmas and New Years travel periods. Hiring has also resumed with several hundred workers already on the job.

"The Payroll Support Program that required government funds to be focused on workers created a 'groundswell up' rather than the mythical ‘trickle down’ economics. It's a proven program now and the concept should be repeated as we rebuild our economy with policies that invest in people."

During the Thanksgiving travel period, the big six carriers (United, American, Delta, Southwest, jetBlue, Alaska) and the regional airlines that fly under their brand:

  • Flew an average of nearly 19,000 flights per day – a 38 percent increase in flights per day over 2020.
  • Reported best on-time performance since 2017 (excluding 2020) at 85 percent.
  • Reported a 99.7 percent completion factor of all scheduled flights – the best results since the 2014 Thanksgiving travel period.

* Data includes Friday before Thanksgiving through Sunday after Thanksgiving for each respective year.


The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, (AFA) AFL-CIO represents nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants at 17 airlines. AFA is the union that has advanced the Flight Attendant profession for 75 years, beating back discrimination and improving wages, benefits, working conditions, and aviation safety, health and security in the aircraft cabin. AFA also partners with the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at

News Desk

Latest News

See All »

Media Releases

See All »

Latest Tweets

Union Plus Benefits

union-plus.jpgUnion Plus Benefits for AFA-CWA Members!
AFA-CWA members are automatically eligible for the following Union Plus benefits and discounts.

More benefits »